Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon & Leslie Jones To Lead Paul Feig's 'Ghostbusters' Reboot Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon & Leslie Jones To Lead Paul Feig's 'Ghostbusters' Reboot Harvey Weinstein Explains What Happened With 'Grace Of Monaco,' Says He Was Right About 'Snowpiercer' Harvey Weinstein Explains What Happened With 'Grace Of Monaco,' Says He Was Right About 'Snowpiercer' Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Harvey Weinstein Says Quentin Tarantino Has Changed The Last Chapter Of 'The Hateful Eight' Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Sundance Review: ‘Slow West’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Kodi Smit-McPhee & Ben Mendelsohn Sundance: Keanu Reeves Opens The Door To Trouble In Teaser Trailer For Eli Roth's 'Knock Knock' Sundance: Keanu Reeves Opens The Door To Trouble In Teaser Trailer For Eli Roth's 'Knock Knock' Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: 8-Minute Video Essay Argues Steve McQueen's 'Shame' Is Actually A Critique Of The Modern Metropolis Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' Watch: The Tampon Scene From 'Fifty Shades Of Grey' You Won't See In The Movie Recreated With 'The Sims' The 10 Best Films Of 2004 The 10 Best Films Of 2004 'Death Proof' Star Zoe Bell Leads Latest Additions To Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' As Filming Begins 'Death Proof' Star Zoe Bell Leads Latest Additions To Quentin Tarantino's 'Hateful Eight' As Filming Begins Ranked From Best To Worst: Every Sundance Dramatic Grand Jury Prize Winner Ranked From Best To Worst: Every Sundance Dramatic Grand Jury Prize Winner Watch: 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch 'Fanatic' Written & Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson And Starring Ben Affleck Watch: 'Saturday Night Live' Sketch 'Fanatic' Written & Directed By Paul Thomas Anderson And Starring Ben Affleck The 10 Best Films Of 2003 The 10 Best Films Of 2003 First Look: Leonardo DiCaprio Gets Grimy In Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'The Revenant' First Look: Leonardo DiCaprio Gets Grimy In Alejandro González Iñárritu's 'The Revenant' 2015 Oscar Nominees Get The Honest Poster Treatment 2015 Oscar Nominees Get The Honest Poster Treatment "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice "Carry Bolt Cutters Everywhere": Werner Herzog Has 24 Amazing Pieces Of Advice The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' Watch: 3 Graphic, Very NSFW Clips From Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac Vol II — Director's Cut' The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point Christopher Nolan Says His Howard Hughes Film Is Dead, But He'd Still Like To Do A Bond Film At Some Point

James Gray Says 'Low Life' Is "The Best Thing I've Done"; Could Possibly Be Ready For TIFF

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist March 26, 2012 at 9:58AM

Over the course of four films, director James Gray has crafted four distinct New York City stories. They are films that often find very masculine yet vulnerable protagonists struggling with difficult emotional and moral terrain, in tales that enrich and transcend the genres parameter they are seemingly structured within. And Gray's next film, the recently wrapped "Low Life," promises to find the writer/director exploring some new ground. His first period movie, the picture stars regular collaborator Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner and Marion Cotillard, in the story of a woman immigrating from Poland whose sister gets caught in the confines of Ellis Island. She is then forced to dabble in burlesque and vaudeville for money once she lands, but a magician comes along who hopes to save her and reunite her with her sister.
5
James Gray Low Life

Over the course of four films, director James Gray has crafted four distinct New York City stories. They are films that often find very masculine yet vulnerable protagonists struggling with difficult emotional and moral terrain, in tales that enrich and transcend the genres parameter they are seemingly structured within. And Gray's next film, the recently wrapped "Low Life," promises to find the writer/director exploring some new ground. His first period movie, the picture stars regular collaborator Joaquin Phoenix, Jeremy Renner and Marion Cotillard, in the story of a woman immigrating from Poland whose sister gets caught in the confines of Ellis Island. She is then forced to dabble in burlesque and vaudeville for money once she lands, but a magician comes along who hopes to save her and reunite her with her sister.

We chatted last week with James Gray as "We Own The Night" prepares to screen at BAMcinematek later today (followed by a Q&A with the director), and asked him about his next effort, and not only is he feeling very confident about the project, we may see it much, much sooner than we had anticipated.

To one degree or another, Gray's films have always touched upon the immigrant experience, particularly as it pertains to his own Russian Jewish heritage. And as he told us, this new film puts those themes he's circled around under the microscope, also allowing him to confront his own family history at the same time. "One of the central struggles that people have -- really throughout history -- is the struggle to try and fit into a larger system. Even if it's an inner city youth somewhere that joins a gang, or some middle aged wealthy white executive working somewhere in the south that needs to fit into his country club, everyone is always joining something to try and fit in. And in drama you're looking always for almost an extreme version [of that theme]," he explained. "And I remember very well, my grandparents who spoke almost no English, who spent a lot of their time really wishing they were back in Russia, which I never understood. But they clearly had trouble fitting in, and I found that very powerful and very sad and it's a very emotional idea to me, and I know how lonely they were in many respects. And I suppose I'm trying to come to grips with that."

But perhaps most excitingly, especially for Gray himself, is that this time around he has made a point to try and avoid using other films as an emotional or aesthetic inspiration -- he's essentially heading into the editing process (which begins this week) cold. "I tried on this movie in particular, to be as uninspired by movies as possible. I want it to be it's own thing. So I don't know what the inspiration is…I tried very hard to not to steal from anything --- I'm sure I did, by the way, I'm not saying I made anything brand new -- not consciously, is what I mean." 

However, even as he begins to shape the film, Gray is feeling very confident about what he has to work with. And moreover, we might be seeing the results as early as this fall. "It will be done in 15 weeks from now. So I think the goal -- to the degree that I have goals like this, because I don't make goals for film festivals -- I think that the goal would probably be to try to make Venice and Toronto. Maybe not Venice because that's really quick...but I think the goal would probably be to make Toronto," he said, adding: "I think it's going to be my best work. What I shot was not just my best work, but the actors doing their best and I'm very excited about it for that reason. I'm extremely excited, like I said it's the best thing I've done."

We certainly cannot wait. The film is currently without distribution, but should it land on the festival circuit this fall, you can bet it will be one that will drawing all kinds of attention, and we're eager to see what Gray has put together this time around. 

This article is related to: James Gray, The Immigrant


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates